Richmond makes history as a Food and Beverage hub

Fortune 50 firm PepsiCo recently acquired local start-up Health Warrior to expand the company’s product offerings into the nutritious food market. Founded in 2010, the super food maker sold their products to over 12,000 retailers nationwide from their headquarters in Richmond.

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GRP’s Grace Festa (left) chats with a representative from Richmond-based Health Warrior.

Greater Richmond has a long history of being a hub for food and beverage manufacturing, especially packing and delivery systems. The region produced and sold the very first beer can in 1935 along with the first recyclable all-aluminum can in 1963. Reynolds Wrap was pioneered in Richmond in 1947 and locally-produced foil is still wrapping Hershey’s Kisses and Rolos. Plastic cellophane was first created by DuPont in 1963 in Richmond as well.

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Fast forward and both domestic and international food manufacturers have found the Richmond Region to be an advantageous location for production of a wide variety of goods. More than 50 food processing companies currently operate in the region including Mondelez Global, the second largest bakery in North America, and Sabra Dipping, the largest hummus facility in the world. Other companies located in Greater Richmond include Maruchan, Tyson Foods, San-J, and Ukrop’s Homestyle Foods. Distribution comes easy with the help of over 100 local freight companies and brokers and the region’s access to 45 percent of the U.S. population in a day’s drive. The Richmond Marine Terminal connects to the Port of Virginia, a certified foreign trade zone, via the James River.

For food startups, Hatch Kitchen RVA offers a 9,000-square-foot kitchen designed for multiple users and outfitted with an array of cooking equipment and work stations. The coworking space is expected to be operational early in 2019 with a variety of food makers as members.

The area is a proven location for food and beverage related R&D with companies such as Sabra Dipping and WestRock, a leader in product packaging, both gathering data in Greater Richmond. With over 5,000 people working in the industry and a skilled labor force that is comfortable with 24/7 operations, the region has a lot to offer.